300 images of men in love

300 images of men in love

Hugh Nini and Neal Treadwell stumbled upon an old photograph of two men posing in a loving embrace at an antique store in Dalla, Texas. Taken around 1920, at a time when being gay was not only frowned upon but was deemed to be illegal. Hugh and Neal saw their reflection in the imagery. Lesser did the couple know that they would go on to publish their own book, “LOVING — A Photographic History of Men in Love 1850s-1950s” with a collection of over 300 images.

Each year, Hugh and Neal travelled to Europe, Canada and the United States in search of more photos of men in love. They combed through the boxes of photos at flea markets and in antique shops. Soon they actively started looking for more such content either online, in estate sales or in family archives. As a result, they came across nearly 2,800 images of men in love which was later narrowed down to 300 for their debut book.

“Loving” is a collection spanning over 100 years with portraits and candid shots of couples lying in bed, picnicking on the grass and posing beside their cars. It’s a collection from all over the world with some daguerreotypes, glass negatives, tintypes, cabinet cards, photo postcards and even photo strips, which means not all are traditional photographs.

Reflecting on their collection in the book, Hugh and Neal wrote, “Until this collection, we thought that the notion of us as a loving couple was ‘new.’ What we have learned from our collection is that we’re not new. We, and other couples like us, both male and female, are a continuation of a long line of loving couples who have probably existed since the beginning of time.”

Credit: Courtesy Nini-Treadwell Collection/5 Continents Editions
Credit: Courtesy Nini-Treadwell Collection/5 Continents Editions
“Within our collection we have certain images that we refer to as ‘superstars’ — this is one of them. It is one of five of this young couple, circa 1900, all taken in the same sitting. The other four range from playful to romantic.” (Credit: Courtesy Nini-Treadwell Collection/5 Continents Editions)
Credit: Courtesy Nini-Treadwell Collection/5 Continents Editions
“This is one our earliest photos of a male couple making marital vows to one another. We have others that were taken later in the twentieth century. There is a playful, perhaps theatrical, spirit in this photo. Had it been discovered during the lives of its subjects they could have plausibly claimed to have been joking around. For us, however, there are too many points of sincerity: the deliberate placing of a ring on the other’s wedding finger, the ‘I declare’ posture of the officiate, the expressions of the two grooms, and finally, and most telling, posing under an umbrella. Our collection tells us that beginning sometime in the mid 1800s, and continuing into the 1920s, two men posing under an umbrella together was an outward declaration of love between the two men.” (Credit: Courtesy Nini-Treadwell Collection/5 Continents Editions)
Credit: Courtesy Nini-Treadwell Collection/5 Continents Editions
Credit: Courtesy Nini-Treadwell Collection/5 Continents Editions

Featured image: Credit: Courtesy Nini-Treadwell Collection/5 Continents Editions


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